Google News Trolling nets lawsuit

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by pegwinn, Mar 26, 2005.

  1. pegwinn
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    pegwinn Top of the Food Chain

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    For the lawyers on the board and the legally smarter. Here's a break from the "All Terry all the Time". My question is how they come up with all the numbers in the damage estimate. Is anyone going to truly believe that AFP suffered an actual 17.5 million is damage to itself? That kind of sudden damage would destroy a news outlet. So how do we get that number?

    Next. Since Google automates news gathering and merely links to the source, how can any damage occur?

    BTW I love GNews. It allows you to get your stories with far more POV and does it quickly. Too bad that they are beginning to censor themselves.



    Tough week prompts closer look at how Google gathers its news
    Is automated method better than using people to edit content?
    - Stefanie Olsen, Cnet News.com Saturday, March 26, 2005


    Chalk it up to a difficult week for Google's automated news service, which tries to outperform newspapers with mathematical algorithms and robots crawling the Web.
    The Web search giant was sued by French news agency Agence France Presse, forcing it to start to pull thousands of photos and news stories from its service.
    Then critics derided its decision to include reports from National Vanguard, a publication that espouses white supremacy. Google said it will remove the publication from its index.
    Both are black eyes to Google's theory that computers, virtually unassisted by human editors, can pick the top stories of the day and beat traditional media at its own craft.
    The tensions hit on the growing pains of changing news consumption and distribution. Readers are using aggregation services like Google News to save time and find news they're interested in from one location. But the digital melting pot of news has raised questions about the need for standards that go beyond technology.
    "It's a searchable newsstand, and it's a wonderful source," said Janice Castro, director of Graduate Journalism Programs at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and former editor of Time.com. "But you're used to being able to say, 'There's the good newspaper. There's the poor stuff.' In search, it's all the same color and all the same size, and it's not ranked by quality.
    "The best is mixed up with things that are far from the best," Castro said.
    Google is coming under fire because it uses its technology to compile news. Yahoo News, in contrast, searches for news but also forms partnerships with content providers. Google declined to comment on whether it has licensing deals with content owners.
    In addition, Google News and similar news aggregation sites have become powerful, forcing news organizations like Agence France Presse to rethink their news-distribution strategies. An increasing number of people turn to search to get news, and many publishers have failed to answer readers' shifting appetites fast enough.
    John Battelle, former publisher of the Industry Standard, said Google concerns publishers because it has yet to form a business model for its aggregation service.
    "That creates fear, uncertainty and doubt around their true intentions with the product," Battelle wrote in an e-mail.
    Visitors to Google News have nearly doubled to 5.9 million since February 2004, according to ComScore Media Metrix. Yet Google News is not as popular as New York Times Digital, CNN, AOL News or Yahoo News.
    Google uses algorithms to find popular news of the day and to cluster different sources on a given story, with links and photos from various publishers. It also has pre-selected roughly 4,500 sources of information and continually reviews new sources for its searchable collection.
    Calls for transparency in Google's process came in response to revelations that the National Vanguard was included in Google News' index. According to the blog Honestreporting.com, Google News has previously included Jihad Unspun, a Web site that publishes anti-Semitic content.
    Google spokesman Steve Langdon said its news service does not allow hate content. "If we are made aware of articles that include hate content, we will remove them," he said.
    It has several guidelines for choosing news sources, including ensuring that the publication is edited. But it does not detail those guidelines on its site, except to say that "news sources are selected without regard to political viewpoint or ideology, enabling you to see how different news organizations are reporting the same story."
    Last week, Agence France Presse sued Google for allegedly using its news articles and photos without authorization. The French company is suing for $17. 5 million in damages and seeks to permanently bar Google from using its materials.
    Agence France Presse's complaint charges that Google infringes on its copyright by reusing its story leads as well as the headlines and photos.
    Fred von Lohmann, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said a legal precedent allows Web publishers to link to thumbnail images. He also said the use of headlines and excerpts from the lead of a news story is fair use.
    Still, Google could face more lawsuits and pressure to engineer a more transparent news service.
    "There's this weird tension," said Eric Goldman, assistant professor at the University of Marquette. "On the one hand, they need to tighten up who's included in their index. On the other hand, if they're too tight, someone is going to zip by them with hotter, fresher news."
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  2. Yurt
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    Yurt Gold Member

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    I will try to answer your question. First, damages have to be ascertainable, reasonable and foreseeable. Then, there are a few ways to calcualate the damages. The two that would be most likely here are compensatory and restitution damages. Compensatory damages put the plaintiff, AFP, in the position he would have been in had the tort/act not been committed. Restitution seeks to avoid unjust enrichment of the defendant, Google.

    Compensatory looks to the loss suffered by AFP, whereas, restitition looks to the gain realized by Google.

    It seems higly unlikely that this one newstory being posted on Google could cause the amount of damages requested, however, AFP may also be citing other times when Google has used their stories without permission. If AFP is seeking restitution, then they might be claiming that Google has benefited in the amount of 17.5 mill. Unfortunately I do not know which method they are using. Especially if they are suing Google in a french court, which does not seem to be the case, but they could do it.

    As to whether Google has violated copyright laws or not, I do not have an answer. For it seems to me that there are plenty of other sites besides google that are doing this and those sites also have advertising revenue like google. I will try and look it up though.

    Hope that helps.
     
  3. pegwinn
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    pegwinn Top of the Food Chain

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    I appreciate the insight. I was told by a friend that because google only links back to the original site that no copywrite violation has occured. Happy Easter.
     

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